Before I start this post, I should say that I’m as hooked on social media as the next pole dancer. I follow lots of polers on Instagram and Facebook, and am followed in turn by some. I check out twitter. I laugh at pole memes. I have pole pals from various countries — people I never would have known existed if it weren’t for social media. They inspire me with their own videos, as well as the videos they share of their favorite dancers — many of whom I also never would have known about. I’m a happy member of several pole-related forums and groups and contribute to them regularly.
New tricks gain global recognition and inspire generations of polers at a time, a clarinet-playing pole dancer goes viral, we join together in challenges a’plenty, and thousands upon thousands of polers feel a sense of community. We are not alone in our struggles. We are not alone in our bruises. We are not alone in our sore muscles. We are not alone in our search for pole clothes that fit and flatter (and cover!).
But for all that awesomeness, social media can also do something horrible to the pole community. It makes all the world a stage, which can invite self-criticism and self-derogatory comparisons in which we are wildly unfair to ourselves. “I have been poling as long as so-and-so … and I’m not doing half the tricks she’s posting on Instagram. Therefore, I MUST SUCK AT POLE.” Or we see videos from incredibly fit dancers and lament our own imperfect abs. Why do we compete with each other in our minds this way? I wouldn’t try to compete against Olga Koda in real life … so why should I watch her videos and feel discouraged that my pole work never looks that effortlessly sexy? If I’m able to use the amazing Ms. Koda as inspiration, that’s another story entirely … but from what I’ve seen, we often don’t (yours truly included). The images and video snippets we see, rather than inspiring us, serve as rationale for us to tear ourselves down. And that makes me sad.
Social media also involves us in “like” wars with each other. So many times I have seen discouraged posts by pole dancers whose videos or photos didn’t get very much attention. They feel like what they’re doing isn’t worthy of someone’s time. This happens regularly on fast-moving boards, where photos and videos shoot down the page at warp speed as new threads are started … but to the poster it obviously feels like they’re on the losing end of a popularity contest. Sometimes they stop posting completely. I hope they don’t stop pole dancing.
Last but not least, let’s talk about short attention spans. When there is so. much. out. there. to watch, who can be bothered to watch a whole video? I’ve found that it can be difficult to even find entire videos that aren’t competition performances or showcase routines. Where are the freedance videos? Finding a full-length freedance by anyone — pole celebrity or everyday pole dancer — is increasingly difficult unless you’re in a group that regularly posts them (luckily I am!). And I think that’s unfortunate.
I have seen so many 15-second trick videos that my head might just pop off. Give me a whole song. I want to see how you build something with your dance. I want to feel the music with you. I want you to ask me questions with your movement, and I want to answer. I want to see your transitions, to wonder what comes next.
Or … give me a training video. Show me the failed attempts. Show me what inspired you to try a trick or combination or flow. Show me your progress. And of course I want to see your success!
So I’m issuing a challenge to my fellow pole dancers. At least once per month, record an entire freedance or make a two-to-three minute video your training progress. Then post it. Post the WHOLE VIDEO somewhere. Those of us who regularly scour YouTube for new pole uploads will find you, of that you can be sure.
Wanna hashtag it?
Please? Pretty please?